Extra en Espanol

This semester I set aside Fridays (in my Spanish 3 and 4 classes) to watch Extra en Espanol.  This is a program similar in content to the American show “Friends“.  The episode takes place in Spain but the Spanish is simple, for students learning Spanish.


Each episode last about 24 minutes.  I created some viewing guides for my students to use while watching.

Episodio 1, Episodio 2, Episodio 3,  Episodio 4, Episodio 5Episodio 6, Episodio 7, Episodio 8, Episodio 9, Episodio 10, Episodio 11, Episodio 12, Episodio 13

Face Card Numbers Game

I occasionally play this game with all levels as a way of reviewing the numbers in Spanish.  Kids seem to really like it and there is always 100% participation/engagement and lots of enthusiasm.  WARNING: Class gets very loud!

Basically the kids are divided into groups of 4.  2 people will compete head to head to say the number in Spanish, 1 person deals the cards, and the 4th person acts as the judge (who said the number 1st, correctly?).

  1. Review numbers on the overhead projector with the class.
  2. Divide students into groups of 4.
    • 2 players will compete head to head
    • 1 student is the dealer
    • 1 student is the judge (settles any disputes as to who said the card 1st and correctly).
  3. If there is an uneven number, you may need 1 or 2 groups of the 3.
    • 1 person will play twice each round so that each player ends up with 4 total scores before the playoff round.
    • Dealer is also the judge.
  4. Pass out playing cards and Score Card to each group.
    • I collected playing cards from students years ago.  I offered to give extra credit for students that donated a deck of playing cards.
    • I have removed all the face cards and jokers.
  5. Students are competing to say who can say the number shown by the dealer correctly.
    • Set your timer for between 30 and 60 seconds (depending on how much time is left in class)
    • In round 1, students are working on numbers 1-10 (Ace = 1)
      • After the 1st two kids compete, record the number of cards they won on the score card.
      • Now switch roles.  The dealer and judge are now competing and the 1st two competitors become the dealer and judge.
    • In round 2, players are now working on numbers between 11-20.
      • I tell them to add 10 to the number they see on the card.
      • I also tell them that they need to compete against a different person in their group.
    • In round 3, players are working on numbers between 10-100.
      • I tell them to multiply by 10.
      • They are now competing against the only person in the group they haven’t competed against.
    • Round 4 is the playoff round.
      • Add up scores from rounds 1, 2, and 3 to get a sub total.  This determines who is in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th so far.
      • The 1st and 2nd place people will face each other, the 3rd and 4th place people will face each other.
      • Kids are now multiplying by 100.
      • Add round 4 score to sub total.
  6. Other
    • Top 3 in each group earn extra credit.
      • I give 1st place finisher the most points, 3rd place the least points.
    • In case of tie, I have them Ro-Sham-Bo.
    • When I have classes with heritage speakers, I will group them together.


PQA (Personal Questions & Answers)

I’ve always struggled with PQA.  For me, PQA is taking the Spanish language and personalizing it for my students.  For example, if we’re reading about a boy that wants a dog, I would want to find out what my students want?  Depending on the class, this could be a fun/interesting activity or it could be very boring.  Sometimes, it feels like I’m working my tale off to make the class/discussion interesting while they are just waiting for the bell to ring.  Recently, I found a way to put more of the burden of the class/creativity onto the shoulders of the students.  Many of you do this already but I’ve recently discovered it.  What I do is have everyone stand up.  My instructions are that they need to come up with a sentence in Spanish using the verb “Wants” (or whatever vocabulary we are focusing on that day).  When they a ready to share it, they raise their hand and I toss them a football (I like sports and enjoy throwing it around my room but a ball/object toss isn’t necessary).  Their sentence can be about themselves or someone else.  They share their sentence then we will discuss.  I can ask the student follow up questions, we can circle the sentence, we can compare students to each other.  Students usually end up trying to out do each other with ridiculous sentences which adds interest.  This just gets everyone involved.  After they share their sentence they are able to sit down.  There is pressure for those left standing to add to the discussion and participate.

Vocabulario con Acciones (TPR)

Every Tuesday, I take a few minutes to do TPR (“Vocab with actions”) with my students.  I choose 3 words that are easy to gesture.  I have the 3 words and their definitions written on board so they can see it.  Then I ask about ways to remember the word; “What is something we can associate with this word?  For example, the Spanish word ‘Mira’ means ‘looks at‘; think of looking into a mirror (because ‘mira’ is similar to ‘mirror’).  Next I ask them what does it look like to look at something (holding imaginary binoculars up to our eyes and looking at something – I use a different gesture for the word ‘sees‘) and that becomes our gesture.  After introducing all the words, we practice.  I will say “Show me…” and we all perform the action (Clase, mira el libro [teacher, classmate, clock, etc.]).  Then I take a few minutes to recycle words from previous weeks.  There are different options for practicing.  I can say a word and they do the gesture.  I can try to fool them by saying the word and doing the wrong gesture, I can do the gesture and they say the word, etc.  They can do this in pairs and groups as well.  I have found that this really helps them to learn the vocabulary and doesn’t take very long.  Also, I use the  gestures during stories to help to make discussions in L2 comprehensible.

Every month or so they will take an action vocabulary quiz.  To do this I put a seating chart inside of a sheet protector and grab a dry erase marker.  Then I ask the kids to close their eyes and do the gesture when I say the word.  I instruct them to do the gesture until I say the next word because it takes me some time to check on everyone.  I look around the room and if I see a kid doing the wrong gesture, no gesture at all, or peaking, I make a tally mark on my seating chart.  Then I make the quiz worth 10, 15, or 20 points and subtract the number of tally marks from their score.

Here are some of the high frequency words we TPR:

  • has, is, plays
  • goes, returns, sees
  • gives, recieves
  • says, asks (a question), asks for
  • knows (fact or information), knows (a person or place), wants
  • leaves (a place), arrives, appears
  • should, waits/stay, comes
  • puts, talks, leaves behind
  • passes, believes, follows
  • finds, feels, counts
  • thinks, takes, waits for
  • calls, looks at, starts
  • looks for, works, writes
  • loses, ends, takes out
  • starts, reads, falls
  • opens, hears, wins
  • brings, dies, touches
  • reaches for, helps, runs
  • listens to, lifts, likes
  • eats, drinks
  • climbs, goes down
  • sleeps, wakes up
  • subject pronouns
  • on top of, in front of, below, next to, inside of
  • right, left, straight

La Misma Luna

Image result for la misma luna

Es una pelicula fantastica!  Attached are some embedded readings we do after watching the movie.  After reading these, my students are better prepared to retell the movie in Spanish.  The first one is a basic version ideal for beginners.  I’ve used mostly high frequency vocabulary with lots of definitions.  The second one is better suited for Spanish 2 or higher.

Under Same Moon Summary (Lectura-basica)


Bulletin Board

I was moved to a new classroom over the summer. There is a bulletin board in the hallway outside my room that I have been asked to maintain.  I decided to include:

  • Super 7 Spanish verbs
  • Novels we read, plan to read, or have read in class.
  • Picts of the educational programs I show in my advanced Spanish classes on Fridays. (Destinos, Extra, Eres tu Maria?, etc.)
  • Senor Wooly
  • I plan to add a picture of Quizlet.com

What else?  Your ideas are welcomed.





Standards Based Grading

This summer in Reno I attended Scott Benedict’s presentation on Power Assessment (Teach for June).  I rethought my grading policy so that it would reflect some of the ideas that Scott presented.  I now use the following categories to calculate grades:

  • Speaking 20%
  • Writing 20%
  • Listening 15%
  • Reading 15%
  • Vocabulary 10%
  • Attendance 10% (school policy)
  • Other 10% (binder checks and things like that)

The speaking and writing categories are the trickiest grading categories for me.   1, they both take along time to grade and 2, sometimes the line between an A and B or a B and C can be very thin.  Here are some of the things I do to give grades in these 2 categories.


I give speaking grades for story retells, Estudiante Especial, and Acting.  On day 2 of a story we read 2 versions of the story, then the kids will do a retell or 2, depending on how much time we have.  The 1st retell will be with the person sitting next to them, the 2nd retell will be to the person sitting behind/in front of them.  Then I will call on a student or 2 to retell the story to the class (for a grade).

Once a month or so I will interview 2-3 students while the rest of the class takes notes.  This is what I call Estudiante Especial and it will last the entire period.  At the end of the activity, I will give each of the students interviewed a grade.

I also am trying to do a better job of using student actors in my stories.  I use the actor to get reps with 1st and 2nd person so I basically interview they kid as we progress through the story.

I’m not a big believer in a prepared or rehearsed presentation, but rather prefer a spontaneous one where the student has to come up with the language on the spot.  This is closer to real life language production.

In grading these activities, I simply give the student a +(exceeds expectations), √ (meets expectations), – (doesn’t meet expectations).   By the end of the semester I generally have a pretty good idea of the students level of proficiency.  I give a 95%-100% for students that generally exceed expectations, 85%-90% for students that generally meet expectations, and 75%-80% for students that do not meet expectations.


I grade the following 5-minute timed writing assignments:

  • Story rewrite
  • Creative write (student makes up a story using given vocabulary words)
  • Write from Pictures (student invents a story from pictures they haven’t seen before)

I don’t have time to grade every single one of these assignments so I will select 1 class from each assignment to grade.  When I read the sample I use a highlighter to mark each of the mistakes.  I have created a rubric that might need some tweaking but for now it works pretty well.  It factors in the number of words written in 5 minutes and the number of errors made to give me a grade.  A student in Spanish 2 would need to write at least 60 words in 5 minutes to get an A.  A student in Spanish 3 or 4 would need to write at least 75 words to get an A.  10/10 would need to be almost no errors.  9/10 would require 95% accuracy.  8/10 would require 90% accuracy, etc.  Below is the rubric I created.  It’s still a work in progress.


I give each student the opportunity to meet with me before school, beginning of lunch, and after school to sit down with me and correct their mistakes for a 1 point grade hike.  Most won’t take advantage of this but the serious ones do.